$175,000 Non Pecuniary Assessment for Fractured Pelvis and Psychological Injuries

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for serious injuries caused by a two vehicle collision.
In today’s case (Kweon v. Roy) the Plaintiff was a passenger in a 2010 collision.  Both motorists were found liable for the crash. The Plaintiff suffered multiple fractures to her pelvis, a mild traumatic brain injury, and depression linked to her physical injuries.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $175,000 Mr. Justice Skolrood provided the following reasons:

[179]     The evidence is uniform that Ms. Kweon suffered multiple fractures to her pelvis as a result of the accident, which were initially totally disabling. While the fractures have healed, the evidence also establishes that Ms. Kweon is likely to continue to experience pain in her pelvic and lower back areas into the future, which would disable her from any occupation involving heavy labour.

[180]     Ms. Kweon also suffered soft tissue injuries to her neck and shoulders. Dr. Kim noted that these injuries have progressed well, although Ms. Kweon continues to experience periodic pain. Part of the problem is the fact that Ms. Kweon has not engaged in an active rehabilitation program and I agree with Dr. O’Connor that there is an element of deconditioning. I also agree with Dr. Leith that these injuries are likely to resolve and will not result in any long term disability.

[181]     With respect to Ms. Kweon’s psychological condition, I accept the evidence of Drs. Cameron, O’Connor and Wilkinson that Ms. Kweon likely suffered a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) in the accident, however I also agree with Drs. O’Connor and Wilkinson that any ongoing cognitive issues are related to her psychological issues rather than any lingering impacts of the brain injury.

[182]     On this point, there is not a great deal of difference in the opinions of the two psychiatrists, Dr. Patton and Dr. O’Shaughnessy. Both agree that Ms. Kweon has experienced a major depressive disorder. While they disagree about whether Ms. Kweon meets the diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder, not much turns on that in terms of assessing Ms. Kweon’s prognosis.

[183]     Where Dr. O’Shaughnessy and Dr. Patton agree is that Ms. Kweon’s psychological condition has not been adequately treated, as a result of which her prognosis is uncertain: Dr. Patton states in her second report:

I must again defer my final opinion on Ms. Kweon’s prognosis as her mood and anxiety disorders have still not been adequately treated.

[184]     Dr. O’Shaughnessy is somewhat more positive:

Overall, I regard her prognosis as relatively positive although, in fairness, we never fully know how she will respond until she has had an adequate clinical trial of medications and cognitive-behavioural therapy.

[185]     Both psychiatrists note the relationship of Ms. Kweon’s pain to her psychological and emotional issues. As noted above, her soft tissue injuries are expected to resolve which, combined with a more aggressive approach to treating her psychological illness, is likely to lead to an overall improvement in her condition. While the prognosis is again somewhat uncertain, the evidence does not establish that she will be permanently impaired by reason of her psychological condition.

[186]     I would add that I do not accept ICBC’s submission that Ms. Kweon’s principal problem is a lack of motivation. It is well established on the evidence that Ms. Kweon is suffering from a psychological disorder which has impeded her ability to take steps towards recovery. In this regard, it is unreasonable to examine the actions of a person suffering from a mental illness through the lens of someone who is not and expect them to act the same. Put another way, it is not sufficient to simply say that Ms. Kweon needs to get on with her life if it is her illness that is limiting her ability to do so. Rather, it is the proper treatment of that illness that will enable her to move forward…

[192]     Considering the impacts of the accident on Ms. Kweon, the principles emanating from Stapley and the case authorities cited, I find that a reasonable award of non-pecuniary damages is $175,000.

bc injury law, Kweon v. Roy, Mr. Justice Skolrood, Pelvis Injury

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ERIK
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When not writing the BC Injury Law Blog, Erik is the managing partner at MacIsaac & Company, based in Victoria, B.C. He is also involved with combative sports regulatory issues and authors the Combat Sports Law Blog.

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